Volume 12 Issue 6 No. 96 October 2016
Cover Story, What is the earliest reference to three degrees? The Office of Chaplain The Third Great Light Famous Freemason – George M. Cohan Woodmen Lodge Major Ness No. 948 Rays of Masonry Old Tiler Talks The Meaning of Masonic Obligations Did You Know? How free is Freemasonry? The Emblems of Freemasonry Main Website – Masonic Fire
In this issue: Cover Story – page 2 What is the earliest reference to the division of Freemasonry into three degrees? This Did You Know? traces the early rituals and looks at when the ‘two degree’ system evolved into the ‘three degree’ system that we work today.
Page 6, ‘The Office of Chaplain’ The Chaplain’s role in the Lodge. Page 8, ‘The Third Great Light’ An excellent short story! Page 12, ‘George M. Cohan.’ A Famous Freemason. Page 15, ‘Woodmen.’ Fraternal Societies throughout the World. Page 18, ‘Lodge Major Ness No. 948.’ A History of one of our Old Scottish Lodges. Page 20, ‘Rays of Masonry.’ - “The Mighty Flame” Page 21, ‘The Old Tiler Talks.’ “Laughter”, the Fifty-third in the series. Page 22, ‘Parrot Masons.’ Page 23, ‘The Meaning of Masonic Obligations’ What is meant by our Obligations? Page 27, ‘I Was Soon to Discover.’ Page 28, ‘Did You Know?’ Page 29. The thoughts of Bro. Rabbi Raymond Apple. Page 30 ‘The Emblems of Freemasonry.’
In the Lectures website The article for this month is ‘Masonic Fire.’[link] The front cover artwork is a stock picture of Bronze, Silver and Gold square and compasses.
Did You Know? Q. What is the earliest reference to the division of Freemasonry into three degrees?
A. The precise answer to this question depends on the significance of the word `degrees'. It may well mean the grades, i.e. the different levels of status within the framework or organization of operative masonry. In this sense, it is certain that there were three `grades', apprentice, fellow, and master, very well established in the mason trade in c. 1390, and perhaps a hundred years earlier. In modern Masonic usage, the word `degrees' relates to the actual ceremonies of admission into the Craft. In this sense, which is presumably the point of the question, the full set of three degrees did not make its appearance in Masonic practice until the third decade of the 18th century, full 300 years later than the earlier `grades' usage. Unfortunately, it is impossible to say exactly when the three-degree system came into practice. To answer that question with reasonable clarity, we have to go back to the beginnings. If we could find actual documents by which we might prove the nature of the earliest ceremony of admission into the Craft, it seems certain that we should find there was only one degree in the 1400s and it must have been for the fellow-craft, i.e., for the fully trained mason. There is a great deal of legal and other documentary evidence showing that, at that period, apprentices were the chattels of their masters and in
those circumstances it is impossible that they can have had any status within the lodge. It was probably in the early 1500s that the two-degree system came into practice with the evolution of a ceremony for the apprentice which made him an `entered apprentice' on his entry into the lodge. In 1599, we have lodge minutes (in Scotland) confirming this and showing the existence of a two-degree system, the first for the entered apprentice and the second for the fellow craft. In 1696, we have the first of a set of three texts describing the ritual, all indicating that the second and highest degree then being worked in Scottish lodges was for the `master or fellow craft'. Within the lodge, both were of equal status, i.e., fully trained masons. Outside the lodge the master could be an employer, but the F.C. was an employee. Although this was Scottish practice, there is useful evidence that a somewhat similar situation applied in England at the time when the first Grand Lodge was founded in 1717, i.e., only two degrees; and Reg. xiii in the 1723 Book of Constitutions confirms that the second or senior degree of those days was `Master and Fellow-Craft'. Several of the earliest ritual texts, 1696 c.1714, confirm that the basic elements of that second degree consisted of an Oath or Obligation, an un-described sign, and `fyve points of fellowship' accompanied by an unspecified word. Thus, it can be proved that certain elements of what subsequently became the third degree were originally embodied in the second degree of the twodegree system. It can also be shown, from the same documents in conjunction with some later texts, that the three-degree system was achieved by splitting the first degree into first and second, thereby 2
promoting the original second degree into third place. Having outlined the manner of its development, the search for `the age' of the third degree involves certain difficulties, because, while we know the dates of the earliest surviving records of its conferment, there are at least two texts which suggest that it may have been known, or practised, before those dates. The first of these is the Trinity College Dublin MS., dated 1711. It consists of a brief catechism, followed by a paragraph that might be described as a catalogue of the Masons' words and signs, allocating specific words and signs to the `Masters', the `fellow craftsman', and the `Enterprentice'. The so-called `Masters sign' is recognizable as a very debased version of the F.P.O.F., accompanied by a word - also much debased. Of course, this cannot be accepted as proof of three degrees in practice, but it certainly furnishes the supposedly esoteric material of three grades in 1711, full fourteen or fifteen years before the earliest actual records of the conferment of the third degree.
And know the Astler, Diamond, and Square; I know the Master's Part full well, As honest Maughbin will you tell. This text, like that of 1711, cannot be accepted as proof of three degrees in practice, but when we attempt to date the advent of the third degree, both texts have to be taken into account. The earliest record of a third degree actually being conferred comes, rather surprisingly, not from a lodge, but from the minutes of a London society of gentlemen who were lovers of music and architecture, the Philo-Musicae et Architecturae Societas Apollini. Their story is an entertaining piece of English Masonic history.
Another hint of a three-degree system appears in `A Mason's Examination', the first printed exposure, which was published in a London newspaper in 1723. It contains a much enlarged catechism and a piece of doggerel rhyme which certainly seems to imply a threefold division of the Masons' secrets, though the details are not particularly impressive:
The Musical Society was founded in February 1725 by eight Free-masons whose quality may be judged from the fact that each of them had his coat of arms emblazoned on one of the opening pages of the minute book. Seven of them were members of a lodge that met at the Queen's Head Tavern, `near Temple Barr', only a few hundred yards from the present Freemasons' Hall. These men loved their Masonry and, in the course of an elaborate code of regulations, one of their rules was `That no Person be admitted as a Visitor unless he be a Free Mason'. Their regulations did not prescribe Freemasonry as a qualification for membership, but it was their custom, if an elected Candidate was not already a Brother, to initiate him as a Mason before receiving him into their Society.
An enter'd Mason I have been, B**z and J****n I have seen; A Fellow I was sworn most rare,
A complete analysis of the Musical Society's minutes would be unnecessary in this brief essay and it will suffice for our
purpose if we follow the career of only one of the founders, Charles Cotton Esq. The preliminary pages of the minute book furnish the Masonic details for several of the founders and we read that on 22 December 1724 `Charles Cotton Esqr was made a Mason by the said Grand Master', His Grace the Duke of Richmond, who had `constituted', i.e., opened the Lodge on that day, presumably acting as W.M. About two months later, on 18 February 1725, the same record continues: And before We Founded This Society A Lodge was held Consisting of Masters Sufficient for that purpose In Order to pass Charles Cotton Esqr [and two others] Fellow Crafts In the Performance of which Mr. William Gulston acted As Senior Warden Immediately after which Vizt the 18th Day of February A.D. 1724 [old style, i.e., 1725] He the said Mr Willm Gulston was Chosen President of the Said Society .. . It must be emphasized that these records of the Lodge meetings on 22 December 1724 and 18 February 1725 belong to the period `before We Founded This Society', i.e., they are notes about two perfectly regular Lodge meetings at which Charles Cotton was `made a Mason' and `passed' F.C. The next record that concerns us is an actual minute of the Musical Society: The 12th day of May 1725 - Our Beloved Brothers & Directors of this Right Worshipfull Societye whose Names are here Underwritten (Viz.) Brother Charles Cotton Esqe. Brothr Papillon Ball Were regularly passed Masters There, in a nutshell, is the earliest record of the conferment of the third degree, but it had taken place in a Musical Society, not in a lodge, and Masonically it was
obviously irregular! The proceedings attracted the attention of Grand Lodge and on 16 December 1725 the Society's minutes record the receipt of a letter from Bro. George Payne, Junior Grand Warden, enclosing a letter from the Duke of Richmond, Grand Master... in which he Erroneously insists on and Assumes to himself a Pretended Authority to call Our Rt Worpfull and Highly Esteem'd Society to an account for making Masons irregularly. The Duke's letter was deemed impolite, because it had not been addressed directly to the Society and it was ordered `That the Said Letters do lye on the Table', i.e., they were ignored. The last minute of the Society is dated 23 March 1727 and apparently it disappeared soon afterwards. Gould, in a fine study of the records of this society (AQC, Vol. 16), while conceding that at face-value they certainly indicate the practice of the third degree, showed that they were open to wide interpretation, and he came to the conclusion that they do not necessarily prove that the third degree was being conferred. For a variety of reasons, unsuitable for inclusion in this short note, I cannot agree with this conclusion, and I believe that, in regard to this point at least, the records may be construed quite safely at their face-value. This is supported by the fact that incontestable records of the third degree in practice make their appearance within the next few years, starting in 1726. The earliest Lodge record of a third degree belongs to Scotland. Lodge Dumbarton Kilwinning (No. 18, S.C.) was founded in 1726 and the minutes for 29 January 1726 state that there were present the Grand Master (i.e., the W.M.), with seven M.M.s, 4
six F.C.s and three E.A.s. At the next meeting, on 25 March 1726, ... Gabrael Porterfield who appeared in the January meeting as a Fellow Craft, was unanimously admitted and received a Master of the Fraternity and renewed his oath and gave in his entry money .. . On 27 December 1728, Lodge Greenock Kilwinning (now No. 12, S.C.) prescribed separate fees for entering, passing, and raising. In England it is noticeable that Masons were quite satisfied to be merely `made masons', taking only the first grade, or the first and second together. This custom, combined with the scarcity of Lodge minutes, makes it difficult to trace early records of the third degree being conferred in an English Lodge. As an example, in the Lodge of Antiquity (founded before 1717) the earliest mention of the third degree is in April 1737, in a minute which states that `Richard Reddall paid 5/- ... for passing Master . . .'. In the same Lodge, in October 1739, it was .. Voted that the following Brethren be Raised Masters, vizt . . .' [six names], and at the Old Dundee Lodge, London, which was in existence in 1722, the earliest record of the third degree is in 1748. To sum up; it would be safe to say that the age of the third degree goes back, in Scotland, to a time in the middle or late 1600s, when some of its essential elements formed a part of the senior degree in the two-degree system, the degree for `Master and Fellow Craft'. The same would apply to England in c. 1700, as confirmed by the Sloane MS. There is a possibility that the three degree system was already known (in Ireland?) in 1711 and in England in 1723. 5
It was certainly worked in London in May 1725 by the members of the Musical Society, who had doubtless acquired it from their `mother' Lodge at the Queen's Head, in 1724. The three degree system was certainly in practice in Scotland from 1726 onwards and by the end of 1730, after the publication of Prichard's Masonry Dissected, it must have been widely known in England, though its adoption was rather slow. So much for the documentary evidence and dates of the various stages in the evolution of the three-degree system. But it is important to emphasize that the Hiramic Legend did not come into the ritual all ready-made as we know it today. The modern Legend contains elements of at least two (and perhaps three) separate streams of legend, as is shown in the earliest record of a `raising' in the Graham MS., 1726.1 The above answer was given by W. Bro. Harry Carr, a former Secretary of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076.
BRO. ROBERT BURNS BURNS! Few there be who know how much they owed To the fine Teachings of Freemasonry! Our ancient Craft did much to wake in thee That love of Manhood which thou taught the Crowd In Songs which now are sung in every Land. It taught thee the wide Brotherhood of Man, Whate’er his Creed or Clime; from it began That feeling in thee which will ever stand As one grand feature of thy noble Soul— That Rank and Wealth are playthings of the hour, Unless for good their owners use their power; And if at times thou in “the Flowing Bowl” Sought surcease of thy Sorrows,—even then Thou often soar’d full high above thy Fellowmen!
The Office of Chaplain The office of Chaplain was instituted in the early years of English Speculative Masonry. The English term "Chaplain" refers to a priest, minister or other clergy officiating in a private chapel. It is this office which is charged with the offering of holy prayer. It was adopted when men of great intellectual curiosity--authors, musical composers, architects, philosophers, churchmen, men of the aristocracy, from both royalty and the nobility--were streaming into the vast pool of enlightened men who had been attracted to this peculiar and unique organization which they learned had been founded on the purest principles of piety and virtue. In Masonry were men, congregated together, who were devoted to the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God, and engaged in the search for truth, the relief of the indigent, and the protection of virtue. Masonry is not a religion. Masonry is not a religious order or religious organization of any kind. Masonry is not meant to replace religion in a man's life. Be that as it may, however, prayer is an essential part of the form, substance and content of Masonic assemblies and meetings. Men in the Masonic Order denied the right of dictation by any church and were conscious of the tendency to persecution by governments under whose protection they resided. In this vein, they initiated the prohibition of religion and politics as discussion topics within the Lodge. This prohibition is jealously guarded to this day. Masonry, nevertheless, is so far interwoven with
religion as to lay men under obligation to pay that rational homage to the deity which at once constitutes their duty and their happiness. It leads the contemplative to view with reverence and admiration the glorious works of creation and impresses them with the most exalted ideas of the perfection of the Creator. Charles Darwin opened a new window on scientific and theological study with the publication in 1859 of his contribution to modem science entitled On the Origin of Species, followed in 1871 by his book Descent of Man. This window looked out on a harvest of concepts and principles unimagined in the intellectual life of man. Where God's laws were interpreted to mean that all living organisms were created to adapt with each other and fit perfectly into their own environment, Darwin removed God and his natural laws and in their stead he placed the principles of common ancestry of humans and apes and his explanatory theory of natural selection. This almost unbelievable concept burst upon the quiet lives of the Western world's scientific community like an exploding asteroid of gargantuan proportions and set off a firestorm of frenzied activity in every study and laboratory in Europe and America, resulting in an unprecedented revolution in philosophy. But God, having been rejected by science for almost 150 years, has now been reintroduced in a new dimension by one of the greatest living scientists of our time, Stephen Hocking. We recall that Freemasonry formally organized in 1717 in England, less than 300 years ago. It is still being defined and publicized as the most widely distributed secret society in the world, having an active membership of over three million men attached to thousands of lodges spread 6
over every habitable portion of the globe-until quite recently when other diversions laid claim to men's leisure hours. There are various theories of the origins of Freemasonry and where this great fraternal organization may have had its roots. But we cannot sell short the fact that the English associations of operative builders of the middle Ages, with their traditions and peculiar customs, the possession of a grip and a password and other characteristics, marked the evolution from the operative science into the speculative Craft that we know today. The fables which carry the fraternity back to the building of King Solomon's temple, to the era of Isis and Osiris in Egypt, and to other momentous incidents in history, all impart lessons that support and form the core of the ritual, charges, lectures and being of the Order. German, French, Scandinavian and other continental intellectual movements migrated around Europe and contributed their influence to Masonry. The Roman colleges of artificers and the great architects and engineers of the Roman armies of occupation left an impress that can still be detected in the Work. The influx of new membership----antiquarians, historians, mystics and intellectuals of every stripe who were attracted to the fraternity at the time of the Enlightenment-----brought with them and contributed to the lodges their own special gifts in interpreting holy writ, the classics and the emerging sciences. We have a classic example in the Book of Joshua 10:12 where Joshua prayed that the Lord would stop the sun. One result of this story was the rounding out of the Masonic symbolic degree ceremonials to 7
substantially the forms in use today, particularly in the signs practiced in the Fellowcraft Degree. Traces of symbolism from Operative Masonry are preserved by the Craft and superimposed on the work of the Masonic ritualists. Also discernible are the great contributions made by the Rosicrucians, Kabbalists, Gnostics and Pythagoreans, as well as the great debt owed by Masonry to ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Oriental philosophies. It was the wide extension of British commerce throughout the world that brought the Craft into vogue through the activity of the army and the navy, who were the prime medium of carrying the fraternity into the furthermost British colonies, into various recesses of Europe and across the oceans to North America. In Canada, particularly in Quebec, working lodges in Wolfe's army were of Scottish, English, and Irish Constitutions. The Lodge of Antiquity, Number 1 on the registry of the Grand Lodge of Quebec, owes its original charter to the latter of the above Grand Lodges. From these early beginnings we now define the Chaplain's role in Masonry, which is to interpret the spirituality of the ritual to the Master of the Lodge and through him to all Lodge members. He is to assist in elevating the moral, ethical, and intellectual level of the members of this community, and in going beyond his constituency, to all ranks in society. In this office it is essential that he be conversant with the history, aims, purposes and fundamentals of the Order in general and with his Lodge in particular, paying special attention to the membership as individuals with their own particular needs and problems. His prayers unite the Brethren in a mystical bond of fellowship whose
faculties are, at this time, directed toward God, the Supreme Being, to whom all must submit, and whom we ought most humbly to adore.
The Third Great Light
The only time a candidates' particular religion is of importance to the Order is when he takes his obligation on the sacred book of his own religion, the better to deem it solemn and binding. His religion is otherwise of no concern to anyone. But it is the concern of the Office of Chaplain to see that the Holy Bible is in its place on the altar when the lodge is opened--for the Bible, and the Square and Compasses, represent the Three Great Lights by which a Mason must walk and work. The Chaplain is aware that a good man will find there is goodness in the world; an honest man will find there is honesty in the world; and a man of principle will find principle and integrity in the spirit and hearts of others. The role of the Chaplain is to promote thorough, faithful, and honest endeavour to improve. In so doing, he makes his greatest contribution to the Lodge. For we believe that there is a God; that he is our Father; that he has a paternal interest in our welfare and improvement; that he has given us powers by means of which we may escape from sin and all its temptations; and that he destined us to a life of endless progress toward perfection and a knowledge of himself. If we believe this, as every Chaplain should, and if we impart and transmit this to the Brethren, we live calmly, endure patiently, and labour steadfastly as conquerors in the great struggle of life.
Many hundreds of workmen are labouring on a great building --a Gothic cathedral which one day will be a poem in stone, a hymn to the Most High, a glory of architecture which will enthuse and make men reverent for a thousand years and more in the future.
Written by Bro. and Rev. Lee S. Donohue is an ordained Presbyterian Minister in Canada and serves the Grand Lodge of Quebec as Grand Chaplain, and sourced from STB August 2000.
There are many Fellows of the Craft; expert cutters of stone and layers of 8
ashlars. Some build flying buttresses; some carve intricate and beautiful designs for the interior. In a hut nearby--it is called by the good old English name of "lodge"--the Kings' Master Mason bends over his plans and draws his designs upon the trestle board, as did Hiram Abif in the long, long ago. A knock sounds upon the door. To his impatient "Enter then, and be quick," a lad pushes upon the portal and stands bareheaded before the Master Workman of them all.
attention...why, Master, thou thyself hath instructed me!". "Aye, aye. A good lad...I know. And so thou wouldst make thy Master's Piece and be a Fellow of the Craft! There will be then, another lad enrolled as an Apprentice--in a year, mayhap, he will be entered on my books and become an Entered Apprentice, even as didst thou, so few days ago..." "Six years ago, Master!"
"Well, well? What is it, thou? I am busy upon the King's work..."
"Six--or sixty--they are still few for the building of a Cathedrals Well, what wouldst thou of me?"
The 'Prentice bows his head. "Honoured Sir," he begins, timidly, "Full seven years have I served; now I would make my Master' Piece, and it please you to let me try."
"Permission to try, Master...and that thou shouldst prove my square!â€™ Tis old, old, and while I believe it to be true, I must e'en know it is true before I try for mine honour."
The King's Master Mason lays down his work and turns, interested.
The Master Workman nods approvingly. "Thou hast been well taught, in truth! To Work with an unproved square on important stone is folly. So be it. Thou hast my permission and- after the midday meal, bring me thy square."
"So! Seven years- how the days do pass Thou art young to be a Fellow of the Craft, surely!" "A man grown, Sire. Twenty-one summers have gone over my head." "Hm. Twenty-one.â€™Tis man's estate, butart sure thou art ready? Art sure thou canst cut or carve or set the stone sufficiently well to pass the eyes of thy superiors?" "Aye, Master, I am sure...at least, wilt thou look at thy records? There is naught against me. I have done thy bidding. I have brought no dishonour upon the Craft. I have laboured long and with my heart as well as with my hands. I have paid 9
"Sire, may I see thee test it?" "Now, now! Surely thou knowest better than that! How know I thou canst make thy Master's Piece successfully? Show thee the great secret of the square? Ah, no, lad- not until thou hast much more of age and experience...but bring me thy square!" It is after the midday meal. A few, perhaps, have eaten it upon long tables in the lodge. If a good day and warm, many have refreshed themselves without using as tables, stones ready for the setting.
'Prentices have brought great flagons of cold water from a spring, hard by. Women from the town have carried huge baskets of food for the hungry workmen, and wives and daughters and mothers and sweethearts stand about chatting with their men while they eat. Then a bell rings and all go back to work - all except the Entered Apprentice, who, square in hand, stands again at the door of the lodge, knocking. "Come in, thou--so! It is an old square, forsooth! Where got you it?" "From Fellow Eben, Master--'tis he who has taught me much, and he who loans me his cherished tool. He believe it true, he and I, but we would be certain!" "Eben--& good man. He would know soon enough if his square were awry. But wood doth warp and steel doth bend-I will test thy square. Be off with thee, and return in an hour!" Pulling his forelock, the Entered Apprentice departs. What thoughts crowd his mind! The Master's Piece he will attempt to make; what task will be set him to do? A rough ashlar to be made perfect? A stone carving he must labour over? Or will he be given twenty stones and a helper and told to build a wall, or start or complete a buttress? Whatever it is, he will have a true square. If he is to fail, it will not be because of a faulty tool. Well he knows how good work, true work, square work is tested when it is submitted by an Entered Apprentice as a Master's Piece! Not easily do the Fellows of the Craft admit a newcomer to their ranks. The Entered Apprentice who is to become a Fellow must know his work. He must know his angles and his mortar, his gavel
and his level and plumb. He must understand how to work a broached thurnel, and how to tap lightly on his irons or heavily to break a great piece of stone...stone costs much in time and labour to bring from the quarries and no false work can be permitted 'tis the King's stone! What goes on in the lodge? What mystic powers does the King's Master Mason use to try Eben's square? What a wonder it is, this great knowledge; this power to make a building grow where was but a pile of stones! A square is either square or awry. The tiniest fraction out and the walls lean, the stones seat insecurely the one upon the other. But with the square perfect, the stones can be perfect, the walls true, the building a lasting monument to God...Within the hut the King's Master Workman closes the door and bars it. Perhaps he has set a tiler or two to guard it- those who set tiles on roofs are less busy than the layers of walls. Sure that he is free from the prying eyes of those who might climb up to the open space beneath the eaves to listen-and, if it rains get thoroughly wet from the droppings from the roof, or from cowans who never built more than a low wall of field stones, huddled the one on the other to keep the cows from wandering--secure from prying eyes, the King's Master Mason takes from its place his compasses. Long they are and rough to look at, made of sturdy oak with an iron hinge, but with fair and true brass points. Next a sheet of clean white parchment; 'tis costly, this parchment, but seven years! The King's Master Mason shakes his long white hair about his seamed and lined old face. Seven years--one third of the lad's 10
life! 'Tis worth it, even though parchment be expensive!
compasses--the square which Ebon has used--which now the young lad will use."
On the rough table he lays it, and weights its edges down with clean stones. With the compasses he scribes a circle upon it, a generous circle perhaps a cubit across. The sharp brass point scratches in the parchment so the circle is plain to see.
The King's Master Mason picks up his tools, rolls again the parchment and puts it away. "I could wish I might show the lad," he sighs. "But it would never do. And likely he hath not the mind to understand. Indeed, who hath the mind to comprehend?
From his rack of drafting tools the King's Master Workman takes a straight edge-finest work that Fellow Edwin could make. Long had he laboured with the block of close-grained ebony, brought from across the seas, to make it true. Backed with strong ash, smoothed of edge, until like the silk that women wear in the East, and straight as the line that divides the sea from sky.
What a wonder is the good God to provide such perfect ways to make things perfect. Now why, doth one suppose, doth a dot on a circle, when connected to points in a line with the centre, become the juncture of a perfect square? Never a fraction of a fraction of an inch wrong! Always is the angle right the angle of the level on the plumb, a right angle indeed. Who comes?" as a knock sounds on the door.
The Master sights along its edges, more from habit than distrust. Then with care he lays it across the circle, so that it touches the tiny puncture in the centre made by the stationary leg of the compasses.
"Tis thine officer who presides over the Fellows of the Craft - who but Hiram?"
"Now, the square-point mark!" he mutters. "'Tis no matter where I make it-the good God so made this mathematical wonder that I cannot fail, put it where I may." With one point of the sharp brass pointed compasses he makes a dot on the circle. As he has said, it makes no difference where. Then with two shorter, straight edges connecting the dot on the circle with the circumference. Narrowly he looks. "What? Do mine eyes deceive me? Is it really out of true?" He picks it up, again lays it down, adjusts it carefully. He looks again, first from above, then from each side. "Nay, I was wrong. They do coincide. Each is equally true--the square I have made by the secret and the power of the 11
"So. Enter then. I have but now tested Eben's square for a lad who will try to make his Master's Piece..." "Would mine had been tested!" mourned Hiram. "Remember, Master? I did not ask for the testing of my square and it was not right angle, but an angle askew--it cost me a year more of Entered Apprentice Work before thou wouldst let me try again!" The Master smiles. "Aye, I remember. Well, thou hast tested the tools oft enough since. But Eben's square is true, a very right angle indeed." "While a square is circumscribed within the circumference of a circle, it is impossible that it materially err!" agrees Hiram.
"Aye, the point within the circle--the line across--the lines connecting â€“they make precepts which all Fellows must, and all men should, heed. Didst ever think, Hiram, that that applies to tools of brass and iron and wood, applies also to character and conscience and mind? Try the square by compasses, the circle, the point within it, the straight edge; so should man try his soul. Let the point be the individual. Let the circle be that boundary beyond which his passions and prejudices may not stray. Let the circle be a holy doctrineâ€”he cannot, then, do any act which is not square, nor materially err in any conduct..." "Tis a Pity all cannot understand, as dost thou!"
Famous Freemasons George M. Cohan
"Aye. But so it is ordained. The square is mine--mine by virtue of being the Master. It is for me to know, for me to try, for me to test the square. But the compasses-they belong to the Craft, since it is by the compasses that I do test the square which Craftsmen use!" "Square and compasses!" mused Hiram. "All that glorious building, the most of which is yet to be, would never be, without the square and the compasses!" "And neither square nor compasses would be possible without the wonder of the mathematics which God hath set in the midst of the compasses for the use and guidance of us, His Craftsmen," answered the King's Master Workman, reverently. "Aye, aye, so mote it always be!" answered Hiram, bending his head.
From Short Masonic Articles website, the author of this short story in unknown.
The film industry, of course, is noted for its great number of Freemasons. During the 1920's, for instance, members of Pacific Lodge No. 233 of New York City were in southern California and were impressed in learning of the many Brethren in motion pictures. They suggested organizing a social club and, during its heyday, the resulting "233 Club" had over 1,700 Masons of the motion picture and theatrical industries as its members, including Douglas Fairbanks, Harold and Frank Lloyd, Wallace Berry and Louis B. Mayer. One of the outstanding patriotic activities of the Club was a gigantic "Pageant of Liberty" in the Los Angeles Coliseum on July 5, 1926 before an audience of 65,000 and employing over 2,500 actors and a chorus of 1,200. Brother Tom Mix, astride his horse, "Tony," portrayed Paul Revere, and Brother Hoot Gibson was a Pony Express rider. Bro. George M. Cohan was a life member of Pacific Lodge No. 233 of New York City. 12
George M. Cohan actor, playwright, comedian, composer and producer, was born on July 3rd, 1878 at Providence, Rhode Island. He made his first professional appearance at the age of 8 and a was a successful songwriter before he was 21, Cohan wrote both words and music, sang his own songs and danced to them, and wrote his own plays, directed them, starred in them and produced them. He starred in vaudeville, musical comedy, drama, on the screen and on the radio. He wrote more than fifty plays, including several variety sketches, and hundreds of songs of every description. George M. Cohan called himself "just a song-and-dance man," but at the height of his career he was unquestionably the first man in the American theatre. Songwriter, dancer, actor, playwright, producer, theatre owner--he was the most versatile person in show business. An old trouper and hoofer, whose dapper costumes, derby or straw hat cocked jauntily over one eye, wisecracks from the corner of the mouth, and lively caper across the stage with his fastswinging cane, were nationally known trademarks, he was regarded for years as just a Broadway vaudeville performer, but astonished the theatrical world by developing into a serious actor and dramatist whose work won praise even from the intellectuals who had previously ignored him. Born and raised in the theatre, he could give lessons to the most erudite of university men in its technique. He was â€œthe original Yankee Doodle boy-born on the Fourth of July.â€? Waving the American flag as a sure-fire finale to bring down the house with applause was established as authentic "theatre" in Cohan shows. In the first world war he wrote the stirring march, "Over There!"--the most 13
inspirational and popular American patriotic song of the period. For this and for another patriotic piece, "It's a Grand Old Flag," which he wrote in 1905, he received a gold medal under a special act of Congress dated June 29, 1936. The medal was presented to the actor at the White House by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom Cohan had impersonated in the musical comedy "I'd Rather Be Right." Some of the most popular plays were "Little Johnny Jones," "Forty-five Minutes From Broadway," "Talk of New York," "The Honeymooners," "Broadway Jones," "The Yankee Prince," "The American Idea," "Get Rich Quick Wallingford," "The Man Who Owns Broadway," "Little Nellie Kelley," "Rise of Rose O'Reilly," "The Song-and-Dance Man," "Molly Malone," "Hit-the-Trail Holliday," "The Cohan Revue of 1916," "The Cohan Revue of 1918," "Seven Keys to Baldpate," "The Miracle Man," "Hello Broadway," "Little Millionaire," "Billie" and "Pigeons and People." Some of his songs bring back memories of a New York era long past, but are recalled with delight by many: "Give My Regards to Broadway," "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy," "So Long, Mary," "Mary Is a Grand Old Name," "Life's a Funny Proposition After All" and "Always Leave Them Laughing When You Say Goodbye." The last-named illustrated as well as a whole textbook one of the most effective of his stylist devices in acting and playwriting. He seldom failed to send an audience home laughing at his third - act ending. Joseph Tumulty, secretary to President Woodrow Wilson, sent him the following
appreciation: "Dear George Cohan: The President considers your war song 'Over There' a genuine inspiration to all American manhood." "Over There" sold more than 1,500,000 copies. Mr. Cohan received $25,000 for the mechanical instrument rights alone, which he gave to his mother, who distributed it among soldiers' funds and civic charities. He joined an all-star cast in 1918 which made a two-week tour in a war play called "Out There." This grossed $600,000 for the Red Cross. George M. Cohan became a very rich man from his theatrical and song writing enterprises. As he lived simply, this gave him an opportunity to play still another role, which was unknown to the general public but was very well known, indeed, along Broadway. He was probably the most generous man of his day in a profession noted not only for its ups and downs but for the generosity of those of its members who are "in the money" to those who are not. If an old actor asked him for a "loan" without getting it, this never became known. On the other hand, his reputation as "a soft touch" was widespread. "Okay, kid," was his favourite response to any approach. He had a long list of "retainers" and "pensioners" to whom he made regular allowances--people who had acted with him, had worked for him, or had merely known his father and mother in show business. In at least one case, when a former partner was caught in the 1929 stock market crash, Mr. Cohan advanced several hundred thousand dollars to save him. In private life also he was modest and soft-spoken, a far
different person from the Broadway "smart- aleck" he often appeared to be on the stage. George Cohan had little time for Hollywood. He resisted all efforts to get him into the films until 1915, when he signed a contract that resulted in three silent movies. He did not return to Hollywood until 1932, when he made his first "talkie." "It's my last one, too," he announced when he returned to New York. He had been treated none too sympathetically by Hollywood. Movie producers and employees, not recognizing his unique position in the American theatre, had failed to make use of his genius. A gatekeeper had barred his automobile from the movie lot because he was "not a star," and an obscure young sub-executive, immersed in routine, had reproved him for submitting a manuscript in his familiar pencilled writing on yellow paper. He felt lost, and was glad to be back on Broadway. But the movies, woke up to the devotion Mr. Cohan's public had for their idol nine years later. After talking about filming Mr. Cohan's life for a year, one studio moved the project into the script-writing stage in the Spring of 1941, titling it "Yankee Doodle Dandy." Mr. Cohan, having facts pried from him by a Hollywood writer, was dubious but anxious about the whole business. "Would anybody go to see it?" he asked. "I don't want to be connected with a boxoffice flop." "Tell you what, we'll give away dishes and make sure," the Hollywood man offered. Mr. Cohan was reassured, but he had a 14
request--"I'd like to sit all by myself in a theatre and see what it adds up to." After eight months, during which the veteran actor busied himself with plans for taking part in entertainments for soldiers and sailors, the private preview was held. Cohan walked out of the theatre and into a telegraph office to send a message to the Hollywood writer. It read: "Thanks, kid. Hope you don't run out of dishes. George M." For the privilege of attending the New York premiere at the Hollywood Theatre of the film, in which James Cagney played the part of Mr. Cohan, on May 20, 1942, a distinguished audience purchased $5,750,000 worth of war bonds. By the Fall the picture had grossed more than $1,000,000. July 3, 1942, was observed as George M. Cohan Day in New York by proclamation of Mayor La Guardia. The film had its premiere in London at the Warner Theatre on Oct. 15, 1942, and Britons bought £163,870,269 in war securities to attend. For all the money he made, Mr. Cohan was always predominantly the artist rather than the business man. He had an office, but seldom went to it. He transacted much of his business from public telephone booths, remarking that his office really was in his hat. He liked to mingle with the audience between the acts or after the show, or to sit up with cronies over a late meal and a drink in an after-theatre restaurant off Broadway, talking about the current theatre. From these listenings and talking’s, many new ideas for plays, as well as changes in plays already on the boards developed. At one time he was almost as well known as a baseball fan as he was as a theatrical 15
man. He remained a fan to the end of his days, but finally gave up his practice of going to the game every day the Giants were in town. He married twice. His first wife was Ethel Levey, who became his dancing partner with "the Four Cohans" after his sister Josie married. A daughter, Georgette, who became an actress, was born to them. The marriage was dissolved in 1907, after which Miss Levey was prominent as a dancer in England. He married the second Mrs. Cohan on July 4, 1908. Their children were Mary Helen, Helen Frances and George Michael Jr. Mr. Cohan was president of the Catholic Actors Guild, which he had headed for several years. He was a member of The Players, The Dutch Treat and The Lambs. He was a life member of Pacific Lodge No. 233, New York City, being raised on Nov. 16, 1905. He received his 32° AASR (NJ) on Feb. 3, 1906 and was a life member. He was also a life member of Mecca Shrine Temple, New York City. At his death on Nov. 5, 1942, he was buried with Catholic services. George M. Cohan and Robert Burns “You’re a Grand Old Flag” Chorus You're a grand old flag, You're a high-flying flag, And forever in peace may you wave. You're the emblem of the land I love, The home of the free and the brave. Ev'ry heart beats true 'Neath the Red, White and Blue, Where there's never a boast or brag. But should auld acquaintance be forgot, Keep your eye on the grand old flag. This Biography of George M. Cohan was collected from a number of sources widely available on the internet put together by the editor and is not an original work by him.
Fraternal Societies Of the World Woodmen
of the Foresters in Philadelphia in 1890) and an Order of Wood Gutters, which was a short-lived Masonic group of about 1847. Here is a list of just some of them. Modern Woodmen of America The Modern Woodmen of America was founded in 1883 at Lyons, Iowa, as a life insurance and fraternal benefit society for white men aged 18-45. The racial criterion was later abandoned. There were 704,800 members in 1995, and the group published The Modern Woodman quarterly. Joseph Cullen Root, who founded the Modern Woodmen of America, was an enthusiastic joiner; he was or had been a member of the freemasons, Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows and the Ancient Order of United Workmen, to say nothing of being the rector of V.A.S. His new organization was founded as a fraternal benefit life insurance society, with rigorous limits on who might be admitted. Candidates had to be white males aged 1845, from the 12 “healthiest” states (the Dakotas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin), and not inhabitants of large cities, even in these “healthy” states.
The attraction of the forest seems to be strong for founders of secret societies. In addition to the Fendeurs, the Foresters, and even the Carbonari, there have been several varieties of “Woodmen.” There have also been Wood-choppers (the Woodchoppers Association was a small beneficiary society founded as a derivative
Also excluded were “railway brakeman, railway engineer, fireman, and switchman, miner employed underground, mine inspector, pit boss, professional rider and driver in races, employee in gunpowder factory, wholesaler or manufacturer of liquors, saloon keeper, saloon bartender, aeronaut, sailor on the lakes and seas, plough polisher, brass finisher, professional baseball player, professional fireman, submarine operator, or soldier in regular army in time of war.” Anyone who 16
took up one (or more) of these hazardous professions lost all coverage, but, provided he gave up anything to do with the sale of intoxicating liquors, he could regain some protection by filing with the Head Clerk an affidavit waving all rights to benefits in case of death or injury arising from the prohibited activity. Religion — or lack thereof — was not a bar to membership. The organization accepted “Jew and Gentile, the Catholic and Protestant, the agnostic and atheist.”
Woodmen Circle This was the former female auxiliary of the Woodmen of the World. It was absorbed in 1965 by the Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Company.
Life insurance was always the principal focus of the group, and the main reason that there was a secret-society overlay seems to have been that Root liked writing rituals. The lodges worked four degrees, in which forests and Roman courts figured as symbols in the proceedings. It also had a juvenile branch, with its own ritual.
The Woodmen of the World was founded by three members of the original Modern Woodmen of America. Its precise relationship to the earlier body is unclear, but it may well be a result of the same schism that gave rise to the Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society (see following). It was known initially as the Head Camp, Pacific Jurisdiction, Woodmen of the World; in 1916, it became simply Woodmen of the World, though it was also known as Woodmen of the World (of Colorado). Its fraternal character, in the sense of ritual and the like, was stronger than that of the original society. In 1962 it absorbed the Christians’ Mutual Benefit Association, followed in 1965 by the Pike’s Peak Mutual Benefit Association.
After the schism that led to the founding of the Sovereign Camp of the Woodmen of the World (see the following), the Modern Woodmen disposed of much of Root’s ritual, though local organizations are to this day called Camps and regional lodges are called Districts. The Royal Neighbours of America was the female auxiliary, but it became long ago an independent organization. Supreme Camp of the American Woodmen. This group was founded on April 4,1901, in Colorado as a fraternal insurance company. The fraternal veneer seems to be thin over this insurance company, which until 1970 published a magazine, The American Woodmen Informer. No membership figures were available in 1995. 17
Woodmen of the World The Woodmen of the World was founded in 1890 as a fraternal insurance society for those over 16. It publishes the Pacific Woodman, bimonthly, and boasted 22,000 members in 1995.
The society organizes social and recreational events, awards scholarships, supports orphans, and donates lifesaving equipment to hospitals. Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society This organization was founded in 1890 as an insurance society for those over 16. It publishes several magazines: the monthly Chips and Woodmen of the World Magazine, as well as Shavings, which
appears 11 times a year. There were 975,000 members in 1995. In 1890 the stability of the Modern Woodmen of America was threatened by a conflict between Mr. Root and the chief physician of the organization, Dr. P.L. McKinnie. The Woodmen solved their problems by simply ejecting both men from the organization. Root then set up another organization in Omaha, Nebraska, which was almost identical to the one from which he had been expelled. Like his earlier organization, the new one prospered as a life insurance society — though the fraternal side still exists, complete with initiation ritual, and beneficiary members are still given an annual password. Only the initiatory degree, that of Obligation, is compulsory, however, though Root also provided three further degrees (Morning, Noon, and Night) to “Camps desiring to elaborate fraternal work.” Masonic influences are evident, though the implements are woodworking tools rather than stone working ones. There is the mallet or beetle, the wedge, and the axe. This is the strongest of all the Woodmen organizations, with almost 150,000 more members in 1989 than a decade previously, though it has boosted its numbers over the years by absorbing a number of smaller fraternal benefit insurance groups: the United Order of the Golden Cross (1962); Order of Railroad Telegraphers (1964); Supreme Forest Woodmen Circle (1965); and the New England Order of Protection (1969). These societies which are featured in the newsletter do really exist; there are virtually hundreds of them throughout the World
Lodge Major Ness No. 948
As one explores the records wondering what might evolve, the exploratory mind is always hopeful, that something unique will emerge, some gem of custom or tradition, a something that will make it stand out above all others. Has Lodge Major Ness such a something? In its proud history, spanning 75 years, many characteristics have emerged, some bright and colourful, some controversial. Let us look for a moment, at the situation in Burnbank in 1902. Far from being the poor relation of the Burgh of Hamilton, Burnbank was rapidly expanding. A flourishing Coal Mining Industry, crying out for Labour, surrounded by an expanding Steel Complex, the Clyde Shipyard, order books bursting at the seams, a stones throw away, with many more of the lighter industries growing up; the future looked rosy. The prospect was good. That was the situation in Burnbank in 1902, when Major John Ness, that well respected and extremely popular Schoolmaster from Blantyre, who already 18
had a brilliant background in Masonic Circles, being twice R.W.M., and Secretary of Lodge Livingstone No. 599 saw fit, to set the wheels turning for the creation of a Masonic Lodge in Burnbank, Hamilton. Already there were three Lodges functioning in the town, but plenty of room for expansion especially in an expanding suburb. A Charter was applied for and granted by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. That was the birth of Lodge Major Ness No. 948. The die was cast. The Charter was granted on 7th May 1903. The first meeting was held on June 30th, when P.M. Bro. John Ness No. 599 initiated 10 candidates. A great start indeed. At the end of that first meeting, Bro. Ness presented the Lodge with a Bible, and the Master presented a Box of Working Tools. On December 26th 1903, the Lodge was erected and consecrated. Then followed the Installation of Office Bearers by Col. Peter Spence S.P.G.M. According to the minutes, there were no teething troubles that one would normally expect in an undertaking such as this, and surely that says for almost perfect organising. Ten out of Ten! On going through the records of the 75 years, one feature stands out above the others, and that is this, the lesson of the N.E. Corner was the brightest jewel of the Lodge. Ask and ye shall receive, that should be the Motto of the Lodge. Almost every charitable organisation, local, county wise, and National can cheerfully thank Lodge Major Ness for assistance given, because their appeals never fell on deaf ears; and donations were forwarded 19
according to financial situation at the time. It is on record that a sum of money was granted to a widow whose late husband was a member of 233. As a young Lodge, they were enterprising and progressive, always striving to improve. They had many traditions and characteristics of their own. A temple of their own was the first priority. Who can ever forget that warm and cosy atmosphere, with the bright and comforting coal fire in the centre of the Lodge room. A real home from home for member and visitor alike. Nostalgic? Perhaps? but something one will always remember. The Zodiac Circle which once adorned the wall behind the Master's Chair, was another, but more instructive feature of the Lodge. The Circle Lecture, so ably given by P.M. Bro. Thomas Goudie was fascinating and interesting, and not featured often enough. The Fellow Craft Degree, with choir and musical background so ably presented presented by P.M. Bro. Robert Black, was a joy and a delight to listen to. Is there no one interested enough to take this up again? There was a time, and lets be strictly impartial, when the Lodge had to "thole their assizes". Perhaps lack of thought and inexperience was at the root of the trouble, but thatâ€™s all behind them now, and the present, and the future is very cosy indeed. Throughout the life span of 75 years, many illustrious and talented Masters have adorned the Chair of the Lodge, bringing great credit to themselves and their Mother Lodge. It would be grossly unfair to particularise. All played their part in helping to build up the reputation and situation one finds in the Lodge today.
Although Burnbank is a purely industrial section of the town, many professional men were attracted to Lodge Major Ness. Doctors, Ministers, School-masters, H.M. Inspector of Mines and many of them paid the Lodge a great compliment by being regular in their attendance. The success of any Lodge, materially depends on the skill and ability of the R.W.M. and not only as a Ritualist, but also in planning the session's work, and make the meetings as attractive as possible to members and visitors alike. For many years this has been a feature of Lodge Major Ness's business. Their connections lie far beyond the Middle Ward Province and this surely is a great compliment to them. Visitors are attracted by the friendliness of their welcome, and the spirit of real brotherliness which prevails, apart from the quality of the work performed, which is second to none, and must be a great comfort to the R.W.M. and Lodge Officebearers. And when one realises that this part of the business is in the capable hands of mostly young, efficient and keen workers, who can look forward to many, many years in happy association with the Lodge. Many a Lodge would give a lot to be in their proud and happy situation. And so, as another landmark has been achieved, and a new era of achievement lies ahead, our sincere wish is, that long may Lodge Major Ness No. 948 bear worthy sons of a worthy mother, who will work hard to keep the name of Major Ness in its proper and rightful place, and honoured among the Lodges, Lodge Major Ness No. 948 does not have a website. Lodge meeting dates can be found at this link http://pgllanarkshire.com/lodge-details/
Rays of Masonry â€œThe Mighty Flameâ€? It was a small group - the one that gathered at the Goose and Gridiron Tavern in London in the year 1717 - the representatives of four London Lodges of Speculative Freemasonry who conceived the idea that a mutually formed administrative body for the lodges in London might serve as a governing body and clearing house for rules and laws. In Masonic literature writers have been criticized for extravagant statements; for over-enthusiasm in presenting Masonic history. But with it all, is there a literature richer in the realm of moral courage, richer in the greatness of man's effort to become God-like; or richer in the story of man's upward climb through the darkness of doubt and ignorance into the light of understanding and tolerance? Why not indulge in imagination? There must have been greatness in that small assembly of 1717. There were men who surely sensed the danger of the day, and had the moral courage to face the situation. They must have been men of vision who could look beyond the present and all its difficulties into a tomorrow in which man would regain his dignity. They must have been men of determination and vision, who insisted the religion should be a force to unite men, not separate them. Why not let the imagination turn to 1717? The Temple is the history of the Builder.
Our thanks go to the Lodge No .948 whom the editor and the newsletter acknowledge to be the copyright owners.
Dewey Wollstein 1953
have a business meeting first and sometimes someone cracks a joke and everyone laughs, and some brethren misinterpret and giggle sometimes in the degrees, and there is some ritual which isn't awe-inspiring and - and I think it should be changed!" "Well, go ahead and change it!" cried the Old Tiler. "I don't believe that absence of solemnity is a Masonic landmark which can't be changed." "Of course it isn't, but how can I change it?"
Laughter "If I had it my way," began the New Brother, sitting beside the Old Tiler, "I'd make it a Masonic offense to laugh in the lodge room. We are not as serious about our Masonry as we should be." "Someone laughed at you, or you are talking to yourself very seriously!" answered the Old Tiler. "I am not!" cried the New Brother. "I take Masonry seriously! What we do in the lodge room has the sacredness of a religious ceremony. I can see no difference between the sacredness of the Altar of Masonry and the altar of a church, and when I go and see the beautiful windows, and hear the music and watch the choir boys come up the aisle, and hear the minister give out the solemn text - well, you know how inspiring it is. I feel the same way in lodge sometimes, during the more solemn parts of the degrees. But we 21
"That's your problem!" smiled the Old Tiler. "You are the reformer, not I. But before I wasted much grey matter, I'd ask myself a few questions. You seem to like things serious, so this should come easy to you. Then I'd talk to the Chaplain. David is young, but he has common sense. "It would do you good to go his church. You would find it as solemn and beautiful as any other during the service. But if you went to a vestry meeting you'd see David grin, and maybe someone would tell a ministerial joke. I can't imagine God being displeased about it. Seems to me if he hadn't wanted people to laugh he wouldn't have made so many brethren to laugh at! "Brother David would tell you that there was a time to be reverent and a time to be happy, and that a church in which people couldn't be happy wasn't much of a church. Ever go to a wedding? Ever see people grin and kiss the bride when it was over? Ever go to a church social? Ever go to the boys' club in a red-blooded church? "It didn't hurt the church in their eyes, did it? Then why should it disconcert you to
have a lodge room treated the same way? Get it out of your head that Masonry or religion is bound up in a room, or a building. It doesn't hurt so long as we don't laugh at the wrong time! It doesn't hurt the solemnity of the Masonic degree that our lodge room is first but a business meeting hall and afterwards maybe a dining room. It is the spirit in which we do our work that counts, not the letter; it is the temple in our hearts which must be kept sacred, not the mere physical confines of brick and stone in which we meet. "That there should be no cause for laughter during the degrees. But to say we can't laugh in a lodge room is to get the dog by the wrong tail! "Masonry, my son, is joyful, not mournful. It should be filled with laughter of little children, the happy smiles of contented women, the loveliness of faithful friendship, the joy of flowers and music and song. To make it too serious for smiles, too solemn for happiness, perverts it. If God made sunshine and children and flowers, don't you suppose He wanted the one to dance with the other in the third? If He made happiness and human hearts, don't you suppose He wanted the one to live in the other? "Masonry is an attempt to live the brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God. The best of all human fathers can but touch the skirts of the Being who is the All Father. But did you ever see a human father worth his salt who didn't want his children laughing and happy? "There is a time for work and a time for play. There is a time for degrees and a time for refreshment. There is a time for business meetings and a time for ritual.
There is a time for laughter and for joy as well as a time of solemnity and reverence. The one is just as important as the other." "I wish just once," said the New Brother, "I could start something with you which I could finish!" "Try offering me a cigar!" suggested the Old Tiler. This is the Fifty-third article in this regular feature, â€˜The Old Tiler Talks,â€™ each month we publish in the newsletter one of these interesting and informative pieces by Carl Claudy
Parrot Masons Cantus Shutupicus The Parrot Mason falls into two species of the same genus, "Cantus Shutupicus." The first is found on the sidelines, repeating every line of ritual spoken, usually three words out of sync with the person giving the charge. The second, like his avian counterpart, repeats every word he has heard that day, usually during the meeting when the lectures are being given. Source: Masonic Birds I Have Known Stephen A. Dafoe 22
The Meaning of Masonic Obligations The obligation is the turning point of every degree; it makes a man an E.A.; a F.C.; a M.M. As early as 1738, objection was taken to an oath of secrecy taken on the Holy Bible and a few years later in 1757, the Synod of Seceders of Scotland condemned the Masonic Order on five grounds, namely; that it is on oath of secrecy; secondly that such an oath is considered by Freemasons as paramount to the laws of the land; thirdly, that such oaths are administered before the secrets of Freemasonry are communicated; fourthly that they are accompanied by certain objectionable ceremonies, and lastly that to each is attached a penalty which is ridiculous and absurd. Is there anything in these criticisms? What is an oath or obligation? The word "obligation" comes from a Latin word obligatio - a binding to, a tie. The same root lig is to be found in the words, ligament and religion. An obligation is more than an oath, it is more than a vow, it combines both. An obligation is a promise made solemnly and under the penalty or sanction of one's religious belief. Let us now consider the five objections made: - First, "Freemasons require oaths of secrecy" An oath cannot be objectionable or open to criticism unless immoral; nor simply because it imposes secrecy, or the performance of a good action, or requires 23
the person who takes it to refrain from something objectionable, or obliges one to do something which is not forbidden by Divine or human law. Where the time, place and circumstances do not involve levity or profanity or crime, an oath of secrecy; or of obedience, or to be truthful, and calling on God to be a witness or to punish one for its violation is incapable by any perversion of Scripture or of reasoning to be regarded as criminal or immoral. Calling on God to witness is a recognized part of all oaths, and calling down God's wrath for its violation is implied even if not expressed. Oaths are as old as mankind and were used by pagans and barbarians to secure certainty in evidence or the performance of a pledge. Oaths were common in Old Testament times. In early England from King Alfred to Edward I, an oath of allegiance to the King was administered to every freeman every year. The King himself was sworn into office and afterwards all officers of the Crown and all judges and jurors. The world is held together today by oaths and obligations. All rulers and administrators, legislators and executive officers of high and low degree in State and municipalities, and in every phase of human society are bound by their oaths of office. Without oaths the world would lapse into disorder, confusion and anarchy. In civil society we find that ties and obligations bind all men together. We speak of the marriage bond or tie; all fraternal orders, good, bad and indifferent, are built on formal obligations; as are all religious orders and societies. Baptism is a form of obligation and so are many Church ceremonies. If we ceased to administer oaths or obligations, society itself would be
dissolved and, of course, all justice and right dealing. The obligation in the Old Charges was very brief; "There are several words and signs of a Freemason to be revealed to you which as you will answer before God at the great and terrible Day of Judgment, you are to keep secret and not to reveal the same to any in the hearing of any person whatsoever but to the Masters and fellows of the said Society of Freemasons. So help me God." A Masonic obligation was originally taken "By the holy contents of this Book and Holy Church," or "So help me God and the holy contents of this Book." Second; Are oaths "placed higher by Freemasons than the law of the land?" To us, as Freemasons this is an absurd charge, for the observance of law and order and the duty of patriotism are primary duties imposed on all freemasons. Freemasonry is organized patriotism, standing for just laws, loyalty and cooperation. There is no room in Freemasonry for treason or disloyalty. Freemasonry is the enemy of communism and anarchy; does not tolerate the undermining of public virtue or social stability; and has no use for the man who plots behind the flag which protects him. "In the state you are to be a quiet and peaceable citizen, true to your government and j just to your country. You are not to countenance disloyalty or rebellion, but patiently submit to legal authority and conform with cheerfulness to the government of the country in which you live." A Masonic lodge is a guarantee of good order, and strength to the community, it stands for morality and law and for lawabiding citizenship. There are today
thousands of Freemasons in positions of trust and responsibility in the state. No rebellion was ever plotted in a Masonic lodge for the Masonic obligation binds us to uprightness and fair dealing and there is not even a line or a syllable to support the charge or objection made to the contrary. Third: "That the oath is exacted before the secrets of Freemasonry are made known." This too is equally absurd, for it is obvious that if the secrets were made known first, the candidate would have an option as to whether he would take it. If an oath of secrecy is itself proper then the proper time for such an oath is before revelation and not after. If you wish to tell your friend a secret, you first exact a promise from him not to tell. The person to be bound knows what its general import is, whether an oath of allegiance to the King, or a declaration that he will not reveal the means of recognition such as the words, grips, and tokens, and he is assured that there is nothing therein contained which will conflict with his duty to God, his country, his neighbour or himself. The fourth objection is that "Masonic oaths are accompanied by certain ceremonies;" presumably the placing of one's hand on the Holy Bible and kissing it three times. We all know that all oaths in all countries are accompanied by peculiar rites, obviously to increase the solemnity of the occasion. An ancient Hebrew placed his hand on the thigh of the person to whom the promise was given. Abraham said to King of Sodom - "I have lifted up my hand unto the Lord, that I will not take anything that is thine." 24
The Greeks placed their hands on the horns of the altar or touched the sacrificial fire, or extended the right hand to heaven and swore by the earth, the sea and the stars. The Romans laid their hands on the hand of him to whom a promise was given. In solemn covenants, oaths were accompanied by sacrifice and a portion of the hair of the victim's head was given to all witnesses. The ancient Germans solemnized the occasion by placing their hands on holy relics. A soldier placed his hand on his country's standard. In China to break a saucer or extinguish a light is regarded as imposing greater solemnity. The Jewish oath in court today is given with the hat on, followed by kissing the Old Testament. In English Courts, we have, since A.D. 528, held up the hand or kissed the Bible or placed the right hand on the Bible. The ancient Church approved of this ceremony as far back as the Council of Nice 321 A.D. The last objection, namely that "the penalties are absurd and ridiculous" is perhaps the most difficult to answer. The criticism is made that not only are these penalties ridiculous and absurd but they are terrorizing and shocking. They are however, not to be taken literally, although Kipling records an instance where a Lascar crew carried out the penalty of the M.M. degree on one of their number who violated it! Some Freemasons who are timid and uninstructed may be disposed to accept this criticism. Freemasonry is described as "the gentle Craft." Its teachings are brotherly love, relief, truth, Love of God, charity, immortality, sympathy and mutual help. Its penalties would naturally shock their timid minds. They come with some surprise and consternation, and there has been some 25
agitation to simplify and modernize there obligations and their penalties. It must be admitted that they are archaic and obsolete and altogether unintelligible to modern minds and so much misunderstood. It is contended that Lodges are schools in which men may learn the way of right living and high thinking; that Freemasonry exemplifies the spirit of humanitarianism, kindliness and charity and that vengeance and retaliation have no place in Freemasonry. It is argued that simpler penalties would be more sensible and more solemn and binding. The fact is that these penalties were in everyday life in the 17th and 18th centuries; the 1600's and 1700's. The English Court of Admiralty had jurisdiction from High water mark over the seven seas, and that above high water mark other Courts exercised their jurisdiction. The code of Henry VI, therefore, directed that the punishments of Admiralty should be inflicted at low water mark. They were terrible and barbarous; the prisoners hands and feet were tied; his throat cut; his tongue pulled out and his body thrown into the sea or buried at low water mark. The Laws of the Friesians or Low Germans directed that for robbing a pagan temple, the criminal should be dragged to the sea shore and buried in the sands at low water mark. By the Scandinavian code a creditor might subject his delinquent debtor to the penalty of having flesh torn from his breast and fed to the birds of prey; and convicts were adjudged to have their heart cut out, and you have the same penalty referred to in Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice" for
failure to pay a debt. The oldest codes prescribed exposure of the body of a criminal to the fowls of the air; or that it should be burnt to ashes and the ashes scattered to the four winds of Heaven. In the Roman code perjury was punished by the tongue being torn out by the roots. In some codes a halter or cord about the neck was used symbolically to denote that the accused was worthy of decapitation or hanging or servitude or slavery. In England, until recent centuries punishments were horrible and inhuman. As late as the 17th century the punishments for treason and all crimes were absurd and severe. Until 1827, the penalty for theft in England and all Canadian colonies was hanging and there are numerous instances of this penalty for very petty thefts within the past one hundred and fifty years. Fortunately humanity has modified our penal methods; the punishment now fits the crime and fits as well the criminal. Now Freemasonry adopted the present obsecrations and penalties at a time when they were familiar to everyone and regarded as proper and reasonable. No Freemason in his sane senses entertains the view that he may or is bound to take the law into his own hands and punish a brother Mason for violation of oath in the manner of the penalty of his obligation. We are all bound to observe the present laws of society, not those which have been repealed. The only Masonic penalty is suspension or expulsion; the scorn and detestation of the Craft. An obsecration was, and is, part of all ancient and modern oaths. The Romans said; "May the gods destroy me!" or "May I die", for the offence of false swearing was not against man but against the gods,
and false swearing was to be punished by the gods and not by man. "May the gods destroy me" means "I am so convinced of the truth of what I say that I am willing to be destroyed by the gods if what I say is untrue." There was no notion or agreement to submit to death at the hands of his fellows. When a Mason adds a penalty to his obligations he declares that he is worthy of such a penalty, if he speaks untruly, or that such a punishment would be just and proper. "May I die if this be not true, or if I keep not my vow" said the ancient. Not "may any man put me to death"! In Masonic penalties there is an invocation of God's vengeance should the maker of the obligation violate it; and not a submission to human punishment. Man's vengeance is confined to contempt and infamy which the perjury incurs. The use of a "sharp instrument" in our ceremonies is an intimation that a punishment awaits all who violate their obligations, a reminder that the violation of any duty brings its own penalty; the way of the transgressor is hard; "The wages of sin is death." Masonic penalties are symbolical as are all parts of Masonic ceremonies. Again obligations with archaic phrases and penalties link us up with the long past. This modern age is too hasty and too often irreverent of the past and of historical continuity. The Church does not discard ancient practices merely because they are old. The glory of the Church is its many links with the past; they are evidence of continuity and authenticity. Again, and most important, these penalties are part of a universal system of penalties in Freemasonry and the basis of 26
unchangeable means of recognition everywhere throughout the Masonic world. Our obligations bind every member to the society and its aims and objects, make him feel his brotherhood with other members of the lodge and the Freemasonry throughout the world and with all who have taken the same obligations. Again our obligations require all brethren to adopt a certain course of action towards others who are brethren; our obedience to a summons; our duty to help aid and assist others; to refrain from injuring others; to refrain from Masonic intercourse with outsiders, and with irregular Freemasons and to discountenance all irregularities and immoralities. The ideal Mason is one whose word is his bond; who can be depended upon to do what he undertakes to do; to be what he ought to be; who recognizes his obligations, not only to his fellows in Freemasonry, but to his brother man as well. To take a Masonic obligation is to declare allegiance to all Masonic principles, so that he may be accepted as a responsible member of the family of Masons. I accept you, you accept me, because we have knelt at the same altar, taken the same obligations, and are bound to the same service. Let the world rave and criticize as it will; it can never tear down the structure we have built which we call Brotherhood. This article was sourced from the Linshaw OMTP website, to which our grateful thanks go to.
I Was Soon To Discover I thought to myself, as my hands touched the door, What in the world am I doing this for? Dressed as I never expected to be, Were they going to play some fools game with me? I stood there a moment, when I heard the command, You must knock on the door with your own hand. The door opened slightly, I thought to go in, But to my surprise, there were questions again. I knew not the answers, but luck was with me, My guide seemed to know what the answers should be! When the door finally opened, and I was led in, I said to myself..........It's about to begin! When they start to laugh, I'll hold my head high, I'll not step back, no matter what the outcry! As I walked on in, I could feel their eyes, But I heard no laughter......I heard no outcries. They seemed to be following some sort of skit, I wasn't quite sure how all of it fit. My apprehensions were eased; my fears were no more, It was not as I imagined from without the door. As I was soon to discover, it was a most solemn event, Instruction and guidance were their only intent. When it was all over I knew one thing for sure, I would never regret..... that first knock on the door.
Did You Know? Q. When did King Solomon and his Temple come into the Masonic System? Did this happen when the Hiramic legend was adopted in the ritual, or was it connected with the exhibitions of models of the Temple in the early 18th century? And why did the masons in a Christian country use Jewish themes? A. David and Solomon (with many other Biblical characters) all appear in the Old Charges from c. 1390 onwards, but that was only because `David loved masons well and gave them Charges' and Solomon 'confirmed the Charges that David his father had given to masons, etc.' The Old Charges, indeed, do not make any great fuss of either of them, but they were within the Masonic tradition from the beginning of our earliest records. Christian interest in the Bible was not confined, in the 14th to 18th centuries, to the New Testament; they were equally interested in the Old Testament, and the Gentiles regularly quote the Old Testament (Isaiah especially) as predicting the coming of Christ. The Old Testament is their Book as well as the New. Our oldest surviving ritual documents, 1696 - c.1710, belong to the late operative period of Masonic history in Britain. The first of these texts, the Edinburgh Register House MS., 1696, contains two questions in its catechism, repeated regularly in many of the later versions, which display an interest in Solomon's Temple, sufficient to show - at the very least - that Solomon and his Temple had their place in the ritual in operative days, and long before the Hiramic legend came into use:
Q. How stands your lodge? An: east and west as the temple of Jerusalem Q. Where was the first lodge? An: in the porch of Solomons Temple (E.M.C., 2nd Edn., p. 32.) In 1659 Samuel Lee published his Orbis Miraculum which dealt at great length with the Temple and its equipment, and in 1688 John Bunyan published his Solomon's Temple Spiritualized, both of which excited much interest in the subject, but there were also many others (see AQC, Vol. 12, pp. 135-164, which contains a mass of information on 16th-17th century illustrations, etc., of K.S.T.). I do not believe that the London exhibitions of the models of K.S.T. created the Masonic interest in the Temple. I believe it was the interest of cultured men in the subject that helped to make the exhibitions successful. The models appeared in London in 1723, 1730, 1759/60. When at the beginning of the 18th century the Craft began to acquire its speculative character, it was inevitable that the Temple should be adopted as the spiritual background to our ceremonies and ritual, in the same way as a theatrical producer selects suitable backgrounds for the play he produces. The Hiramic legend did not appear in print until 1730, but we have hints of several streams of Masonic legend (about Noah and Bezaleel) from which our ritual builders were able to compile it. I believe that it existed (perhaps in several forms) outside the ritual, i.e., in folklore and craft lore, before it was actually embodied in our ritual some few years. 28
How Free is Freemasonry? We are not certain when the term Freemason emerged, though it was certainly in use in the late 17th century. Bernard E Jones (Freemason’s Guide and Compendium, 1950, page 114) quotes a tract of 1698 which attacks “Freed Masons” as “anti-Christ” and a “devilish sect of men” who practise “Mischiefs and Evils in the Sight of GOD”. It warns, “Take care lest their Ceremonies and secret Swearings take hold of you; and be wary that none cause you to err from Godliness”. True, the correct term is Freemasons, but the author probably inserted the “d” quite deliberately to express his belief that the “devilish sect” were throwing off religious restraints. Though we reject this argument, we are still not sure why Masons are called “free”. Some quote the German “frei”, free, since the operative Mason could go wherever he wished or was needed; others posit a link with the French “frère macon”, Brother Mason. But since Speculative Masonry probably came from the British Isles, the term is likely to derive from English, not German or French. One possibility is an Anglo-Saxon word (with links to other languages), “freo”, beloved, not so much because of a sense of collegiality but indicative of acting at one’s own pleasure. Many scholars, (e.g. G.W Steinbrenner, The Origin and Early History of Masonry, page 110) point out that the medieval mason worked in “free”, i.e. soft and not rough stone. Steinbrenner says, “The word Freemason evidently signifies a free-stone, as distinguished from the rough mason, who merely built walls of rough, unhewn stone”. In a statute of 1350 the wages of a 29
master Freemason are higher than those of other masons. In an Ordinance of 1365, a plumber was denied the right to practise his trade “if he be not free of the City, and… he knows well and lawfully how to work” (Report of Royal Commission on the Livery Companies, 1884, vol. 3, page 673, cited in Frank Foden, Philip Magnus: Victorian Educational Pioneer, 1970, page 187). Were masons also required to be “free of the City”? Whatever the history, the term appealed to the Speculative Masons of three hundred years ago. Preferring new possibilities to ancient precedents, they believed that man was able (i.e. free) to plan his own destiny, free to use his reason wherever it might lead, free to build a Utopia and figuratively to use free stone to shape his material without merely imitating the ideas of others. The creativity of that age waned but the movement prospered, not without making changes along the way. It called itself “ancient” as well as “free” and introduced its own precedents and symbolism. It allied its respect for man’s mind with an insistence on a Mason having at least a nominal belief in God. It qualified its belief in reason by admitting that there were secrets which reason could not penetrate. It posited that a flash of light would one day pierce the “mysterious veil”. Milton, obsessed with his blindness, had written of “no light, but rather darkness visible”; Freemasonry more or less espoused a belief that eventually there would be no darkness, but rather light visible, and its ideology united reason and religion in dreaming of man’s eyes being opened to see the ultimate truth. By Rt. Wor. Bro. Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple, AO RFD, Past Deputy Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales & the Australian Capital Territory. Click the name to go to his website.
THE EMBLEMS OF FREEMASONRY The First Degree The Tessellated Border The Tessellated Border, which is one of the Ornaments of the Lodge, refers us to the planets which, in their various revolutions, form a beautiful border or skirt-work round the grand luminary, the Sun. It may be likened also to the Ocean which skirts the Land, and, by indenting it, adds to the beauty of the earth. And as the Sun and the Ocean are both great agencies for good in the economy of the world, the Tessellated Border emblematically represents the many blessings and comforts with which this life is endowed, and which are earnests of those which Freemasons hope to enjoy hereafter. Tassels The Tassels pendant to the four corners of the Tessellated Border remind the Freemason of the four cardinal virtues which are Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice, all of which, according to Masonic tradition, were constantly practised by a vast majority of the ancient members of the Craft. The Four Principal Points The four principal points in Freemasonry refer to the ceremony of initiation, and are denominated from so many parts of the human body, and are called Guttural, Pectoral, Mental, and Pedal. Like the Tassels they allude to the four cardinal virtues Temperance Temperance is more peculiarly the virtue of prosperity, as she guards the soul against those insidious allurements by which its nobler feelings are too often corrupted. But her influence is not confined to the hour of prosperity alone: she forms the mind to a general habit of restraint over its appetites, its passions, and even its virtues ; any of which, if allowed to acquire exclusive influence over the soul, would concentrate the faculties in a single point, absorb its feelings, and confine its en energies, insensibly producing intolerance of sentiment, and degenerating into an excess scarcely less pernicious than vice it-self. Temperance may, therefore, be styled the crown of all the virtues. Her influence, like the masters of the ancient lyre, can modulate the varied chords of lively sympathy, or generous feeling, till each acquires its due tone and vibration, and the whole becomes blended in one sweet accordant harmony. This monthly feature is taken from William Harvey’s book, “The Emblems of Freemasonry” 1918.
Until next month, Keep the faith! The Editor. 30
The Monthly Magazine of Lodge Stirling Royal Arch No.76.